Mandarin Neutral Tone—does It Change Target
International Journal of Language and Linguistics
Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2014, Pages: 5-18
Received: Dec. 2, 2013; Published: Jan. 20, 2014
Views 3208      Downloads 200
Xiaoluan Liu, Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, University College London, London, UK
Article Tools
Follow on us
It is known that in Mandarin each of the five lexical tones can be assigned with an articulatorily functional target: [high] for tone 1, [rise] for tone 2, [low] for tone 3, [fall] for tone 4 and [mid] for tone 5 (the first four tones are known as full tones while tone 5 is called neutral tone). Given that the targets of full tones can change (e.g., from tone 3 to tone 2) in certain speech conditions (e.g. tone sandhi), it is natural to ask whether the same is true for Mandarin neutral tone. This is still an unresolved question, the solution of which can contribute to our understanding of articulatory “strength” as an index of speech communication which is less well explored than other areas of speech production. Motivated by the above concerns, this study uses speech production experiment to test whether the target of Mandarin neutral tone has similar target values (in terms of target slope, height, duration and strength) to those of other tones in Mandarin under three speech conditions: emotion (anger, happiness, disgust and neural emotion), sentence position of the neutral tone (sentence medial and final) and tones preceding the neutral tone (all full tones in Mandarin). The results reveal that the neutral tone is highly likely to change its target in certain combinations of the aforementioned three speech conditions. This study not only further supports previous studies on the impact of emotion, sentence position and tonal contexts on the target behavior of tones, but also highlights the possibility of Mandarin neutral tone changing from weak to strong in articulation for the purpose of effective communication, providing further evidence for “strength” as a communication index.
Mandarin Neutral Tone, Tonal Targets, Articulatory Strength
To cite this article
Xiaoluan Liu, Mandarin Neutral Tone—does It Change Target, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 2, No. 1, 2014, pp. 5-18. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20140201.12
Atkinson, J. E. (1978). Correlation analysis of the physiological factors controlling fundamental voice frequency. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 63, 211–222.
Banse, R., and Scherer, K. R. (1996). Acoustic Profiles in Vocal Emotion Expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 614-636.
Boersma, P., and Weenink, D. (2013). Praat: doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 5.3.59, retrieved 3rd Janurary 2013 from
Boiten, F.A. (1998). The effects of emotional behaviour on components of the respiratory cycle. Biological Psychology, 49 (1–2), 29–51.
Boiten, F. A., Frijda, N. H., and Wientjes, C. J. E. (1994). Emotions and respiratory patterns: Review and critical analysis. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 17, 103-28.
Bruce, G. (1977). Swedish word accents in sentence perspective. In Malmberg, B. and Hadding, K. (eds.) Travaux de l’institute de linguistique de lund XII. Lund, Gleerup.
Byrd, D., Kaun, A., Narayanan, S., and Saltzman, E. (2000). Phrasal signatures in articulation. In Broe, M. B. and Pierrehumbert, J. B. (eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology V, pp.70-87. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chao, Y. R. (1968). A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
Chen, Y., and Xu, Y. (2006). Production of weak elements in speech: Evidence from F(0) patterns of neutral tone in Standard Chinese. Phonetica, 63 (1), 47–75.
Cho, T., McQueen, J. M., and Cox, E. (2007). Prosodically driven phonetic detail in speech processing: The case of domain-initial strengthening in English. Journal of Phonetics, 35, 210-243.
Cho, T., and Keating, P. (2001). Articulatory and acoustic studies of domain-initial strengthening in Korean. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 155–190.
Cowie, R., and Cornelius, R. (2003). Describing the emotional states that are expressed in Speech. Speech Communication, 40, 5-32.
Darwin, C. (1872). The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. London, England: John Murray.
Ekman, P. (1999). Basic emotions. In Dalgleish, T. and Power, T. (eds.), The handbook of cognition and emotion, pp. 45-60. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Ekman, P., Levenson, R. W., and Friesen, W. V. (1983). Autonomic nervous system activity distinguishes among emotions. Science, 221, 1208-1210.
Erickson, D. (2011). Thai tones revisited. Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan, 15(2), 1-9.
Fougeron, C., and Keating, P. A. (1997). Articulatory strengthening at edges of prosodic domains. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 101(6), 3728–3740.
Gandour, J. T., Potisuk, S., and Dechongkit, S. (1994). Tonal coarticulation in Thai. Journal of Phonetics, 22, 477–492.
Gu, W., and Lee, T. (2009). Effects of tone and emphatic focus on F0 contours of Cantonese speech—A comparison with standard Chinese. Chinese Journal of Phonetics, 2, 133–147.
Hammerschmidt, K., and Jürgens, U. (2007). Acoustical correlates of affective prosody. Journal of Voice, 21, 531–540.
Hawkins, S., and Smith, R. (2001). Polysp: A polysystemic, phonetically-rich approach to speech understanding. Journal of Italian Linguistics – Rivista di Linguistica, 13, 99–188.
Herman, R., Beckman, M. E., and Honda, K. (1999). Linguistic models of F0 use, physiological models of F0 control, and the issue of "mean response time". Language and Speech, 42, 373-399.
Hinton, V. A. (1996). Interlabial pressure during production of bilabial phones. Journal of Phonetics, 24, 337–349.
Honda, K., Hirai, H., Masaki, S., and Shimada, Y. (1999). Role of vertical larynx movement and vertical lordosis in F0 control. Language and Speech, 42,401–411.
Jun, S.-A. (1993). The phonetics and phonology of Korean prosody. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University.
Keating, P. A. (2006). Phonetic encoding of prosodic structure. In Harrington, J. and Tabain, M. (eds.), Speech production: Models, phonetic processes, and techniques, pp. 167–186. New York and Hove: Psychology Press.
Keating, P. A., Cho, T., Fougeron, C., and Hsu, C. (2003). Domain-initial strengthening in four languages. In Local, J., Ogden, R., and Temple, R. (eds.), Papers in laboratory phonology 6: Phonetic interpretations, pp.145–163. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Krakow, R. A., Bell-Berti, F., and Wang, Q. E. (1994). Supralaryngeal declination: evidence from the velum. In Bell-Berti, F. and Raphael, L. (eds.), Producing Speech: a Festschrift for Katherine Safford Harris, pp.333-353. Woodbury NY: AIP press.
Kwon, O. W., Chan, K., Hao, J., and Lee, T. W. (2003). Emotion Recognition by Speech Signals. In Proceedings of Eurospeech, 125-128. Geneva, Switzerland.
Li, Z. (2003). The phonetics and phonology of tone mapping in a constraint-based approach. PhD dissertation. MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Li, A., Fang, Q., Hu, F., Zheng, L., Wang, H., and Dang, J. (2010). Acoustic and Articulatory Analysis on Mandarin Chinese Vowels in Emotional Speech. In 7th International Symposium on Chinese Spoken Language Processing, 38-43. Tainan, Taiwan.
Liu, F., Xu, Y., Prom-on, S., and Yu, A. C-L. (2013). Morpheme-like prosodic functions: Evidence from acoustic analysis and computational modelling. Journal of Speech Sciences, 3 (1), 85-140.
Morrison, D., Wang, R., and De Silva, L.C. (2007). Ensemble methods for spoken emotion recognition in call-centres. Speech Communication, 49, 98–112.
Murray, I. R., and Arnott, J. L. (1993). Toward the simulation of emotion in synthetic speech: A review of the literature on human vocal emotion. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 93, 1097-1108.
Noble, L., and Xu, Y. (2011). Friendly speech and happy speech: Are they the same? In Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 1502–1505. Hong Kong.
Ohala, J. J. (1972). How is pitch lowered? Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 52, 124.
Oller, D. K. (1973). The effect of position in utterance on speech segment duration in English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 54, 1235–1247.
Philippot, P., Chapelle, C., and Blairy, S. (2002). Respiratory feedback in the generation of emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 16, 605-627.
Pierrehumbert, J., and Talkin, D. (1992). Lenition of /h/ and glottal stop. In Docherty, D. R. and Ladd, D. (eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology II, pp. 90-117. London: Cambridge University Press.
Prom-on, S., Liu, F., and Xu, Y. (2011). Functional modeling of tone, focus and sentence type in Mandarin Chinese. In Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 1638–1641. Hong Kong.
Prom-on, S., Liu, F., and Xu, Y. (2012). Post-low bouncing in Mandarin Chinese: Acoustic analysis and computational modelling. Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 132, 421-432.
Prom-on, S., and Xu, Y. (2012). PENTATrainer2: A hypothesis-driven prosody modeling tool. In Proceedings of the 5th ISEL Conference ExLing, 27-29, Athens, Greece.
Prom-on, S., Xu, Y., and Thipakorn, B. (2009). Modeling tone and intonation in Mandarin and English as a process of target approximation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125, 405-424.
Rainville, P., Bechara, A., Naqvi, N., and Damasio, A.R. (2006). Basic emotions are associated with distinct patterns of cardiorespiratory activity. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 61, 5–18.
Sagart, L., Halle, P., de Boysson-Bardies, B., and Arabia-Guidet, C. (1986). Tone production in Modern Standard Chinese: An electromygraphic investigation. Cahiers Linguistique Asie-Orientale, 15, 205-221.
Scherer, K. R. (1986). Vocal affect expression: A review and a model for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 143-165.
Scherer, K. R. (2003). Vocal communication of emotion: A review of research paradigms. Speech Communication,40, 227-256.
Scherer, K. R. (2013). Vocal markers of emotion: Comparing induction and acting elicitation. Computer Speech and Language, 27(1), 40-58.
Scherer, K. R., and Zentner, M. (2001). Emotion effects of music: Production rules. In Juslin, P. and Sloboda, J. (eds.), Music and emotion: Theory and research, pp. 361–392. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Shen, J. (1994). Hanyu yudiao gouzao he yudiao leixing (Intonation structures and patterns in Mandarin). Fangyan (Dialect), 3, 221–228.
Shih, C. (1987). The phonetics of the Chinese tonal system. Bell Laboratories, Tech. Merevt.
Stevens, K. N. (1963). Theory of Vocal-Cord Vibration and its Relation to Laryngeal Features. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 55, 383(A).
Vaissière, J. (1986). Comment on Abbs’s Paper. In Perkell, J.S. & Klatt, D.H. (eds.), Invariance and Variability in Speech Processes, pp. 220-222. Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
van Bezooijen, R. (1984). The characteristics and recognizability of vocal expressions of emotion. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.
van den Berg, J. W., and Tan, T. S. (1959). Results of Experiments with Human Larynxes. Practica oto-rhino-laryngologica, 21, 425-450.
van Santen, J., and Möbius, B. (1999). A quantitative model of F0 generation and alignment. In Botinis, A.(ed.), Intonation: Analysis, Modeling and Technology, pp.269-288. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Vayra, M., and Fowler, C. (1992). Declination of supralaryngeal gestures in spoken Italian. Phonetica, 49, 48–60.
Ververidis, D., and Kotropoulos, C. (2006). Emotional speech recognition: Resources, features, and methods. Speech Communication, 48, 1162-1181.
Xu, Y. (1997). Contextual tonal variations in Mandarin. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 61-83.
Xu, Y. (1999). Effects of tone and focus on the formation and alignment of F0 contours. Journal of Phonetics, 27, 55–105.
Xu, Y. (2004). Understanding tone from the perspective of production and perception. Language and Linguistics, 5, 757-797.
Xu, Y. (2005). Speech melody as articulatorily implemented communicative functions. Speech Communication, 46, 220-251.
Xu, Y. (2006). Tone in connected discourse. In K. Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd Ed. Oxford: Elsevier. 12: 742-750.
Xu, Y. (2009) Timing and coordination in tone and intonation—An articulatory-functional perspective. Lingua, 119, 906-927.
Xu, Y. (2005–2013). ProsodyPro.praat,
Xu, Y., and Wang, Q. E. (2001). Pitch targets and their realization: Evidence from Mandarin Chinese. Speech Communication, 33, 319–337.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186